Free program is taking Detroit youth to new heights

On Thursday nights the Coleman A. Young airport in Detroit is buzzing with excitement. If you thought the airport was just a bunch of empty hangers, you’re in for a surprise! “To me this is the most wonderful space in the United States. We are a very unique museum in that we curate historical artifacts of the Tuskegee Airmen,” Dr. Brian Smith, President and CEO of the Tuskegee National Air Museum told “Live in the D’s,” April Morton.

The Tuskegee Airmen National Museum is home to 14 flying aircraft and 1 of 3 museums in Detroit with Tuskegee Airmen artifacts. “We have a P39 Air Cobra which we brought up from Lake Huron. A Tuskegee Airmen crashed in 1943 in that aircraft. A partnership with the State of Michigan allows us to bring the airplane to the airport and do the conservation so it can be later displayed in memoriam to Tuskegee Airmen who perished during training,” Smith said.

Not only does the museum tell the stories of these national heroes, the facility doubles as a school and teaches youth in the community how to fly the historic aircraft. “I want to be a commercial pilot so I’m trying to study for my private pilot license,” said 15-year-old Lauyrn Billingsley who’s halfway through the ground program at the museum. The ground program is designed for youth 14-19 years old who have dreams of becoming pilots. Students who excel in the class are offered free flight training.

The Flight Academy class is one of several happening at the airport on Thursday nights. There’s an aircraft maintenance class, rocket club where students create their own rockets and actually launch them, and drone piloting classes for youth starting at age 10. “We can get a student ready to be a professional Drone Pilot making money, and we’re talking significant money; many jobs in drone flying that our students can take advantage of,” Smith said.

For more information on the program and watch the story in it’s entirety, click the video above.


For more information visit www.TuskegeeMuseum.Org